In this week’s Views, we have a guest post from Amy L. Glover, a member of Mexico’s Council on Foreign Relations (COMEXI). The thoughts below are her own and do not reflect the positions of COMEXI.
Glover notes that the U.S.-Mexico relationship could use more of an economic focus:
Regardless of who wins the U.S. presidential election, Mexico has the opportunity to establish an even deeper relationship with its northern neighbor. The central focus of the U.S. presidential campaign is how to promote economic growth and job creation. Mexico – with its growing economy and attractive internal market of more than 100 million consumers – is an economic ally that no U.S. president should ignore. Mexico alone imports more goods from the United States than does China, accounting for more than 10 percent of total U.S. exports.
Every twelve years the electoral cycles of the United States and Mexico coincide, and in 2013 both countries will have new presidential administrations. Next year is also the twenty-year anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which by all accounts – job creation, export growth, investment – was a resounding success for the three signatories. That said, it is high time to make doing business in North America even easier, and this should be the central focus of the bilateral relationship moving forward.
The negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership – to which both Mexico and Canada were granted entry over the summer – will be an excellent opportunity to ensure that the North American production platform eliminates as many barriers to trade and business as possible, while allowing the countries to make inroads into Asian markets.
While Mexico has had its share of negative press as a result of violence related to the drug trade, investment is still flowing into the country and the economy is growing at a rate of 4 percent. The next U.S. president should avoid making security the sole focus of the bilateral agenda. Mexico’s recently elected president, Enrique Peña Nieto, will take office on December 1, and labor and energy reform are at the top of the to-do list; both measures would improve the country’s competitiveness, making it an even more attractive investment recipient.
As a domestic issue, immigration reform has played a divisive role in the U.S. presidential campaign. Though U.S. immigration reform is viewed as a foreign policy issue in Mexico, it would be wise to avoid having this issue overshadow others, given the Mexican government’s limited ability to influence the outcome.
A regional, North American perspective on economic growth should be the foundation for the bilateral relationship between the United States and Mexico, and 2013 provides a unique opportunity to move forward on an ambitious competitiveness agenda.